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21st Oct 2012 4:51pm | By Louise Kingsley
His dancers rarely smile – it’s only in the final moments of his new double bill that Michael Clark’s androgynous octet, their faces as well-disciplined as their bodies, break into happy grins.
Now fifty, Clark hasn’t lost his playful streak, though.
The classically trained dancer who formed his own contemporary dance company in 1984 makes brief appearances in both sections – semaphoring sharply in the first, hidden in a furry dog costume (a pair of round three-legged stools serving as outsize doggy balls) in the second.
Set to a lilting selection of Scritti Polliti’s songs, and performed against the background of an expanding rectangle of changing light, the almost dreamlike, rather delightful first act highlights the dancers’ poise and balance.
One descends from above, still as a statute. Another appears to levitate in a seamless lift.
In their matt black tunics and trousers, they flex their torsos and revisit familiar steps from dance class, bare foot and with no barre for support they extend their limbs and flex their feet with controlled precision in perfect synchrony with the pre-recorded soundtrack.
The second act sees a complete change of mood. Skin-tight unitards shade from burnished gold to red as these rather alien creatures discover the potential of their bodies, testing them as though newly inhabited.
Then the stage opens up to reveal Jarvis Cocker fronting Relaxed Muscle.
The auditorium vibrates, the dancers reappear in stark costumes of black, silver and white and Cocker, his face painted ghoulish Halloween green, bounds forward, dropping into the stalls and threatening to upstage the dancers in a high energy explosion of movement and music.
Barbican, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS
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Until 27th October